After spending much of 2020 driving through her new backyard of Yellowstone National Park, photographer Kate Ochsman happened across a scene one day that stopped her in her tracks. It was, she said, a “trifecta of rarity.
“The first being that everything in Yellowstone is green, the second is that there are absolutely zero people or cars in this stretch of prime Lamar [Valley] land, and the third is that there is just a single bison cow without her herd,” Ochman wrote of the scene.
“Knowing that the moment would pass in the blink of an eye, I stepped out of my vehicle, safely ducked low in the middle of the road, and made a few images,” Ochsman wrote.
One of those images, which Ochsman titled “Stay in Your Lane,” is the winner of the Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative’s 2021 Human-Wildlife Coexistence Photography Contest.
For the contest, the NRCC invited photographers to submit work that captures what it means for humans to live within the natural world and how nature reflects the influence of humanity.
Along with Ochsman’s winning shot, judges selected four finalists who made images highlighting the interplay between humans and wildlife.
The finalists feature an array of Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem creatures.
Scott Crisp’s shot chronicles a grizzly bear hopping a fence to access its historic habitat, and Jackson Doyel’s depicts a pine marten that took a break from hunting mice in a firewood pile long enough to allow for some close-up shots.
Ochsman was also a finalist with another shot, which captures a western meadowlark — Wyoming’s state bird — in apparent defiance of the sign it sits atop.
And judges picked as a finalist Naomi Heindel’s photograph “Hello in There,” the only award winner to feature homo sapiens.
“This image was chosen for its creativity with the Human-Wildlife coexistence theme,” the judges’ commentary stated. “We liked the curiosity of the child peering into the hole, as well as the composition of the photo.”